House Republicans Continue to Sabotage Working Americans Right to Form Unions
WASHINGTON– TODAY, the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing on three bills that deny workers’ of their right to bargain for better wages and working conditions. These bills undermine the union election process, a critical step towards workers joining together for a stronger voice in the workplace.
“When working Americans are empowered to collectively bargain with their employers over wages and conditions of employment, productivity gains can be linked to wage growth,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Gregorio Sablan (NMI-AL). “However, the three bills under consideration today sabotage workers’ ability to organize and collectively bargain for a better life. Make no mistake about it, taken together these bills are not just union busting bills, they are union elimination bills.”
The “Employee Rights Act” (H.R. 2723) rigs union elections by treating every employee who did not vote as having voted against the union. The “Employee Privacy Protection Act” (H.R.2775) prohibits unions from having the same access to employees’ contact information as the employer during the election process, preventing employees from being informed about union representation. And the “Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act” (H.R. 2776) mandates arbitrary waiting periods that delay elections and empower employers to gerrymander the voting composition of bargaining units by adding employees who have expressed no interest in joining the union.
“Deceptively short, these bills are chockfull of malicious intent to render elections absurdly undemocratic, strip workers of rights, take control of unions away from union members, drain union treasuries, and otherwise destroy labor unions,” said Mr. Guerino “Jody” Calemine, General Counsel for the Communications Workers of America, at the hearing. “These bills don’t reflect sound policy or an attempt at consistent application of rules- but are a naked political assault on labor unions and nothing more.”
Since Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2011, they have convened 27 hearings or mark-ups in the Committee on Education and the Workforce undermining workers’ ability to organize and collectively bargain. The once bipartisan recognition of the fundamental role of unions in the American economy and democracy has been replaced by relentless partisan attacks.
“One of these bills imposes an unachievable burden for workers to successfully vote for a union, by requiring a majority vote of all eligible voters instead of a majority of those actually voting,” said Full Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03). “None of the sponsors of the bill would have been elected if they were required to achieve that level of support.”
True democracy and fairness in the workplace requires uplifting and strengthening, not stifling, freedom of association. Congress must protect employees from employer coercion in union elections, rather than silencing unions and granting employers more time to intimidate workers. Instead of relentlessly attacking workers’ rights and retaliating against employees who want a union, Congress must focus on efforts to strengthen workers’ rights to organize, raise the minimum wage, and provide paid sick days.
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